Koala Reproductive System Koala's 2 Pronged Penis and 3 Vaginas

koala mother and baby

Photo: Female koala with baby

The male koala has a large two-pronged penis, and the female koala has three vaginas and two uteruses. (see photos below).

Koalas, like all marsupials, have a single opening at the bottom of their body, called a cloaca. The animal's intestinal, urinary, and genital tracts are connected to this single-opening cloaca. It poops, pees and has sex through the same opening, much like like birds and reptiles. (Placental mammals, on the other hand, have two or three openings—an anus, a urinary tract and a reproductive tract).

Related Article: What is a Marsupial?


Male Koala's Two-Pronged Penis Male Koala Reproductive Anatomy

Photo: Male Marsupial Two-pronged penis

Male koalas have a long two-pronged penis (bifurcated penis). The end of the penis is split into two prongs (see photo). This means that each prong enters the corresponding left and right vaginas of the female.

Also, a koala's penis is located behind its scrotum. (Most animals have the penis located in front). When flaccid, the koala's penis is withdrawn and safely tucked away inside its cloaca.

Koalas have a fur-covered non-pendulous scrotum. This means their scrotum (balls) are held close against their bodies. They do not dangle.

Male koalas do not have a pouch.


Female Koala - 3 Vaginas & 2 Uteruses Female Koala Reproductive Anatomy

Photo: Female Marsupial Reproductive Anatomy

Photo: Marsupial vs Placental Reproductive Anatomy


Do Koalas Have Periods?

No. koala females have periods at all." Instead, they have covert menstruation, where their extremely thin endometrium is completely reabsorbed into the body.

The female koala has three vaginas and two uteruses (uteri). The two outermost vaginas are used for sperm transportation to the two uteruses above them. Babies are born through the middle vagina. By contrast, female placental mammals have only one uterus and one vagina. (See photo).

The female koala gives birth to a very small, underdeveloped baby.


Koala's Pouch? Not All Marsupials Have a Pouch

koala with baby

Photo: Female koala with baby

Koalas give birth to a tiny embryonic baby that crawls from its mother's birth canal to a pouch located on the front of the mother’s body.

It carries this little baby in a pouch equipped with nipples. The baby attaches itself to a milk nipple and continue to grow into a viable baby koala.

The koala's pouch has an upward-facing opening that can be drawn shut by powerful muscles to prevent the baby from falling out. The koala's pouch is also lined with muscles and ligaments that expand to accommodate the growing joey inside.

Only female koalas have a pouch. The female koala isn't born with a pouch, but instead, her pouch develops as she begins to reach sexual maturity. A male koala does not have a pouch.

Do Koalas have Belly Buttons?

No. Koalas don't have belly-buttons. Only placental mammals such as you and me, cats, cows, whales, etc. have belly buttons. That’s because placental mammal babies have an umbilical cord which originally connected where the belly-button is.

The inside of the pouch is warm, nearly fur-less, with two teats that supply milk. Because koala babies are born underdeveloped, her pouch acts as a second womb to permit her young to grow into viable offspring.


Koala Sex How Koalas Mate

The koala breeding season is between September and March, and they have one offspring per year. Males begin mating at about three years of age. Females can breed from about two years of age.

The male koala's sperm contains special chemicals which trigger ovulation in the female.

A unique feature of these animals is that during extreme drought and starvation, the female koala can practice birth control by putting the babies growing in her uteruses "on hold", stopping their future development until conditions improve. This is called embryonic diapause. Then, when the mother's pouch becomes free, the next baby will be born, and the fertilised egg will start developing into a new foetus.


Koala Egg

The koala egg descends from an ovary into a uterus, where it is fertilised. Once fertilised, the egg is encased in a fragile shell which is just a few microns thick and disintegrates when the egg reaches the third gestation phase.

Koalas only develop a very 'primitive' choriovitelline placenta where the egg, with its embryo inside, is attached to the mother's uterine wall for a gestation period of 30 to 36 days.


Koala Birth

Photo: Joey crawling to pouch

Before the birth of koala young, the female cleans out her pouch by sticking her head into her pouch, licking the inside clean. It then takes up a "birthing position" and licks its birth canal opening to stimulate the birth.

Marsupial Birth Video

The young koalas, about the size of a jelly-bean, soon emerges from the birth canal. It is born blind, deaf, hairless, with stumpy forelimb and hardly any trace of its hind legs. Even though it is still underdeveloped, the young newborn has an excellent sense of direction, knowing which way is up and down, and an acute sense of smell. Using its little forelimbs in a swimming motion, the young joey crawls laboriously to its mother's fur to the pouch. This journey takes about three minutes. The joey's journey is made entirely by itself. The mother does not assist in any way. Once inside its mother's pouch, the joey quickly attaches itself to a nipple in the pouch.

Once it has attached itself to its mother's nipple, the young joey will stay hidden for about six months. Then it will start to tentatively pop its head out of its mother's pouch and observe the world around it. Finally, after having gained enough confidence, it will venture out of the pouch. The young joey will hitch a ride on its mother's back for 6-12 months before it becomes fully independent.